Microsoft announced Tuesday on its support page
that it will be ending 'Mainstream Support' and moving to 'Extended Support' for some of its operating systems and servers. Most notably, Mainstream Support for the Windows 7 operating system, including the Enterprise and Enterprise N versions, will end January 13, 2015.
At the same time, Microsoft will end Mainstream Support for Exchange Server 2010, Windows Server 2008, Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, and Windows Storage Server 2008. Mainstream Support for the Windows Phone 7.8 ends even sooner, on September 7 this year.
Although Mainstream Support will no longer be offered, Microsoft customers who continue to use those products will still have access to the company’s Extended Support service for another five years, including security updates at no cost and paid hotfix support. However, Microsoft notes that it will not be accepting requests for design changes or new features during the Extended phase.
A Possible Reprieve
Despite the announcement that it will be ending Mainstream Support for the Windows 7 platform in the next six months, Microsoft has pushed back on announced support deadlines before. Its popular Windows XP platform, for example, had its deadline for the end of Mainstream Support delayed following poor adoption of its successor, Windows Vista.
Like Windows XP, Windows 7 has proven to be a popular operating system which many customers have continued to cling to, following the disappointing reception of the Windows 8 platform. According to the International Business Times, half the world's laptops and desktops still run on Windows 7.
Since Microsoft will no longer be rolling out new features for the OS, corporate and enterprise customers will have to resort to custom solutions if they want new features for the system over the next five years.
Even in the event Microsoft doesn’t postpone the end of Mainstream Support for Windows 7, Extended Support for the widely used OS is due to continue until 2020, and by then, Microsoft will likely have released new versions.
Out to Pasture
Microsoft has also announced service changes for several other products. Support for its Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2004 Standard Edition will end on October 14, 2014, alongside Windows CE 5.0, the embedded device operating system first released in 2004.
The company also announced plans to end Extended Support on January 13, 2015 for all versions of its Host Integration Server 2004 (including its Enterprise version), Systems Management Server 2003, all versions of its Virtual Server 2005 platform, and the Visual FoxPro 9.0 Professional Edition. Microsoft indicates there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates for those products after that date.
Support for several service packs are also being retired. The Office 2010 Service Pack 1 and SharePoint Server 2010 Service Pack 1 will see their support end on October 14, 2014, while Forefront Unified Access Gateway 2010 Service Pack 3, Visual Studio 2012 Remote Tools, Visual Studio 2012 Test Professional, Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web, Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8, and Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop will see their support end on January 13, 2015.